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North Hollywood remains strong


By Vincent Bonsignore

It's too early to tell, but any thoughts of this year being a rebuilding season for defending Sunset Six League boys' basketball champion North Hollywood High might be a bit premature.

The Huskies, as evidenced by their season-opening 17-point victory over El Camino Real of Woodland Hills on Tuesday, definitely have the look of a team ready to make another run at a league title.

"It's hard to tell after just two weeks," North Hollywood coach Rob Bloom said. "But I definitely expect us to be good."

The Huskies benefit from the return of all-league guard DeAndre Lamar, who had 23 points against El Camino Real after averaging 13 points per game a year ago.

Lamar is only 6-foot, but he's an excellent athlete who can get to the hoop on drives and this year has shown improvement with his outside shooting. "

And the thing he really improved on is his passing," Bloom said. "He really looked to get other guys involved, he saw the double-teams and he made the pass to the open man. That is really going to help his game."

One setback is the loss of gutty forward David Durand, who hurt his knee playing for the Huskies football team and could be sidelined until the beginning of January.

"He's really a glue for us, a tough, hard-nosed player," Bloom said. "When he gets back, I think we can be really good."

In the meantime, Bloom will look to a couple of newcomers and the continued development of reserve Adam Nicklas to hold things together until Durand returns.

Nicklas played on the varsity a year ago even though Bloom initially felt he'd be better suited for the junior varsity. He's a slender, 6-3 shooting guard who has tremendous range and will stretch defenses with his 3-point shooting.

The two transfers -- Beewee Vallesteros and Allan Rojas -- will play key roles.

Vallesteros, from Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, is an experienced sophomore who played for the Notre Dame varsity as a freshman. He still has to work on his practice habits, according to Bloom, but come game time, he's shown poise.

"He's one of those guys that plays better than he practices," Bloom said. "He's had a lot of experience playing on club teams, and that shows. He plays with a lot of savvy." Tournament tidbits: The Simi Valley tournament kicks off this week with games at Simi Valley High and Camarillo from Dec. 3-7.

Taft of Woodland Hills, even with football standout Steve Smith still not available, is considered the favorite. Other teams involved include Valencia, Newbury Park, Poly of Sun Valley, Camarillo, Moorpark, Granada Hills, El Camino Real and Monroe of North Hills.

The LeBron phenomenon: LeBron James, the St. Vincent-St. Mary of Akron (Ohio) star and likely the first player chosen in next year's NBA draft, will play in Los Angeles against Mater Dei of Santa Ana on Jan. 4 in the Dream Classic at Pauley Pavilion and can also be seen on national TV on Dec. 12 when St. Vincent-St. Mary plays Oak Hill Academy of Mouth of Wilson, Va. The game is being televised by ESPN2.

Interestingly, Time Warner Cable in northeast Ohio will televise St. Vincent-St. Mary home games this year on pay-per-view. That's right, pay-per-view. Even though St. Vincent-St. Mary switched its home games from its 1,500-seat gym to the University of Akron's 5,000-seat campus arena, the demand for tickets is still too great to accommodate fans who want to watch James, who is being compared to Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady.

So now James can be seen on pay-per-view at a projected $7.95 per game.

1. Harvard-Westlake
2. Loyola
3. Taft
4. Chaminade
5. Montclair Prep
6. Thousand Oaks
7. Cleveland
8. Hart
9. North Hollywood
10. Littlerock


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